Paul Simon Was ‘Unimpressed’ When Visiting Elvis Presley’s Graceland Home

Elvis Presley‘s Graceland home has welcomed visitors worldwide, including many of the king of rock and roll’s fans from the entertainment world. Most entertainers are treated with a specific privilege when they enter the mansion’s gates. However, Paul Simon wanted an everyday experience and was surprisingly “unimpressed” after he visited the king’s Memphis, Tennessee, home along with other fans.

Elvis Presley and Paul Simon in side-by-side photographs.
Elvis Presley and Paul Simon | Michael Ochs Archives/Richard E. Aaron/Getty Images

When did Elvis Presley purchase Graceland?

Elvis Presley purchased Graceland in March of 1957 at the age of 22. He bought the home and adjacent grounds for $102,500, per the home’s official website. When Presley made the purchase, he was busy working on his second motion picture, Loving You. He placed a $1,000 deposit down as collateral.

Graceland was the second home Presley purchased for his parents, Vernon and Gladys. The first was a home located on Audubon Avenue in East Memphis.

However, as Presley’s star grew, that home, unprotected from onlookers, became a mecca for the superstar’s fans. Presley wanted something more private, and he found that with Graceland, which allowed the entertainer to retreat from the public eye.

The famous music gates were not on the property when Presley purchased Graceland. They were set in place in April 1957 to keep Presley’s fans at bay. On May 16, 1957, his parents and grandmother moved in while Elvis continued to film Jailhouse Rock. Presley did not officially move into the property until June of that same year.

Paul Simon wasn’t impressed by his visit to Graceland

Graceland Mansion photographed in 2016.
Elvis Presley’s Graceland home in Memphis, TN | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Instead of alerting the Graceland staff to his arrival, Simon waited in line with other visitors to tour the expansive property. “I didn’t tell anybody I was coming or get any special treatment. I just waited in line, and I was singularly unimpressed,” he revealed, as reported by Far Out.

Paul was indeed a big Elvis fan. He told Spin Magazine, “He was the most important force in rock ‘n’ roll, no question about it. Nobody is even close.”

He continued, “It was his invention, he blended black and white music, and that’s the single most powerful idea that’s emerged from rock ‘n’ roll. Plus, he had the voice, a great investment.”

Paul Simon called the stately home a ‘business’

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In the same interview with Spin, Paul shared more information regarding his trip to Elvis’ stately home. He spoke of the personal journey to the abode that inspired his hit tune, “Graceland.”

“Just as in the song, the journey was more interesting than the destination. The drive up the Mississippi Delta is very beautiful. I had been recording for this album [Graceland] with Rockin’ Dopsie in Louisiana. I rented a car and drove up. It was very beautiful—Louisiana, the rural South—and I hadn’t been there in a long time,” he explained.

However, he felt Graceland itself was just a “business. Big parking lots, you buy your ticket, get on a bus, and wait in line. There’s a tour and guides, and they take you through the house and show you Elvis’s this and Elvis’s that.”

The songwriter continued, “It’s a very common experience, but in the end, you come out onto the grounds, and there are the graves of his mother, father, and him. Even though it’s so commercial, you could even feel it offensive to your taste—and then, on the plaque on Presley’s grave, it says he was given the gift of this incredible voice that has touched millions of people all around the world. And that’s just what it is. A gift.”